Comment & Analysis
Apr 13, 2020

Students Didn’t Get No Detriment – They Got a College Unusually Ready to Compromise

Students didn’t get no detriment in the way they’d hoped, but Trinity worked hard to capture the spirit of the policy.

By The Editorial Board

In some ways, Trinity’s decision on no detriment last week – eagerly anticipated by students, and first revealed in this newspaper – felt almost anticlimactic.

Student campaigners, who had mobilised en masse and pushed the issue firmly onto the agenda and into the national media, didn’t have their demands met by University Council. But College explained its rationale, and worked hard to capture the spirit of the campaign in a way that fits into its assessment structures.

For many pushing hard for the policy, it might have been hard to know what to feel.


On the one hand, Trinity refused students’ demands and came up with its own policy – an accusation frequently laid at College’s door, and something that the campaign’s leaders had publicly worried about. But on the other, it was hard to find fault with the spirit of a set of proposals that sincerely attempted to account for the serious issues students face.

College went to unusual lengths to communicate to students the policies in place, and the reasons behind them. Unusually for Trinity, the information given to students had almost as much detail as the documents – seen by this newspaper – that were discussed internally.

The announcement also saw the circumvention of the long-winded bureaucracy that typically characterises Trinity’s big decisions. College officials acted quickly and decisively to put students first.

There will likely be differing opinions on whether there should have been more extensive consultation with staff before these radical proposals were announced. Students, though, were calling for clarity on the assessment period, and they were not left waiting.

Last week, this Editorial Board wrote that no detriment was the best policy we’d seen for students struggling under the weight of a litany of issues. We acknowledged that the policy was not without its flaws, but that creative thinking could see it be implemented successfully.

Seven days on, it’s clear from the array of options College has put in place that Trinity’s decision-makers have taken students’ concerns seriously, and come up with a set of measures that are thorough and compassionate, and that will hopefully give students the safety net they need this year.